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Are salespeople born or made? Biology, personality, and the career satisfaction of salespeople

James M Loveland (Department of Marketing, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, United States)
John W Lounsbury (Department of Psychology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, United States)
Soo-Hee Park (Tennessee Department of Education, Knoxville, Tennessee, United States)
Donald W Jackson (W.P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona, United States)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 2 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between personality traits and both job and career satisfaction among salespeople. The authors also wished to examine the extent to which biologically based personality traits provided insights into job and career satisfaction.


The authors used latent profile analysis (LPA) to assess a sample of 299 salespeople along the dimensions of emotional stability, extraversion, work drive, teamwork orientation, customer service orientation, optimism and both job and career satisfaction.


The findings revealed two distinct groups, and these groups were markedly different along the biologically based traits of optimism, extraversion, emotional stability and along both job and career satisfaction. The differences across these groups were especially pronounced for career satisfaction.

Practical implications

Our findings suggest that firms might wish to devote limited resources to improving the skill sets of salespeople with the “right” disposition, rather than attempting to train candidates to cope with the emotional and visceral aspects of sales.


The relationship between biologically based traits and job/career satisfaction has not yet been examined. Moreover, the use of LPA provides interesting insights that regression or structural equation modeling-based approaches would not.



Loveland, J.M., Lounsbury, J.W., Park, S.-H. and Jackson, D.W. (2015), "Are salespeople born or made? Biology, personality, and the career satisfaction of salespeople", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 30 No. 2, pp. 233-240.



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